Want to have quick, dramatic weight loss without losing muscle mass?
Try out the Keto Diet or Ketogenic Diet plan, which has been shown to promote weight loss and improve overall health and there are more than 20 studies to support the claim.
The Ketogenic Diet is an exceptionally low-carb, high-fat and moderate-protein diet that promotes weight loss by putting the body in the metabolic state called Ketosis.
The state of ketosis arises when the body is deprived of carbohydrates for a long time. In the absence of carbs, the body starts using the stored fats as a source of energy which leads to burning of calories and weight loss.
Other than weight loss, a ketogenic diet may also have positive impact on diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, etc.
This article provides detailed information about Ketogenic Diet along with the process of ketosis and list of ketogenic foods that are allowed on a Keto diet.
What is the Process of Ketosis?
The first and most important thing to understand before starting a ketogenic diet is the process of ketosis. Ketosis is a complex metabolic process that occurs in the body when it does not have enough glucose in the blood. Glucose produced by breakdown of carbs is readily taken up by the body as the most preferred source of energy. But when the body is deprived of carbs, it starts looking for an alternative source of energy and begins to break down stored fats in order to produce glucose from triglycerides. Ketones are a by-product of the process of ketosis. Ketones are eliminated in urine. Presence of ketones in urine is an indicator that the body is converting fat into energy.
How to Measure Ketones in a Ketogenic Diet?
There are two easy ways to measure ketones. First, you can use a blood glucose monitor to take a blood sample from your finger and measure the ketone levels in the sample. It is best to take the blood sample in the morning on a fasting stomach. Second, you can measure the ketone levels in your urine using urine test sticks or ketone sticks.
Interpreting the result of a ketone test:
Ketone levels below 0.5 mmol/L – Ketosis is not occurring and the body is far from maximum fat burning
Ketone levels between 0.5-1.5 mmol/L – Light nutritional ketosis is occurring which will have positive effect on your body weight, but ketosis is still not at its optimal state
Ketone levels between 1.5 – 3 mmol/L – This is the state of optimal ketosis that is ideal for maximum weight loss
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high fat diet that aims to create the metabolic state of ketosis in the body so as to facilitate weight loss. In a ketogenic diet, almost 75% of the calories are derived from fats, 20% calories are gained from proteins and 5% calories are obtained from carbohydrates. A ketogenic diet usually lasts of 3 to 4 weeks and participants can lose up to an average of 12 lbs during these 4 weeks of the Keto diet. Even after completion of the diet, the participants feel less hungry with fewer calorie requirements than before the diet. Some studies show that a ketogenic diet can also be beneficial for treating epilepsy, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
How to Achieve Optimal Ketosis in a Ketogenic Diet?
Many of the participants don’t see optimum level of ketosis even after strictly following a low-carb diet. There are several seasons for low levels of ketosis:
- Too much protein in the diet can knock out the body of ketosis
- Too little protein can lead to loss of muscles mass
- Too many fats can lead to increase in body
- Too little fat can lower energy levels
- Too many carbohydrates can knock out the body of ketosis
So, the trick to achieve optimal ketosis is not only to avoid all sources of carbohydrates, but also to be carful about the amount of protein intake. You may be tempted to consume large amounts of protein (meat, eggs) in order to promote ketosis, but this will back fire because, excess amount of protein in converted into glucose in the body which will affect optimal ketosis. The secret is to increase you satiety by boosting the amount of fat in your diet. Including more fat in your food will fill you up and ensure that you eat less protein. As a result, the level of insulin in your blood will drop and your body will reach optimal ketosis.
4 Types of Ketogenic Diets
There are four main versions of the ketogenic diet, and one must understand the purpose and functioning of each version in order to understand which type works best is his/her case.
SKD (Standard Ketogenic Diet) – This is the most effective ketogenic diet that includes very less carbs, moderate amount of protein and exceptionally high amount of fat. Carbohydrates are highly restricted in the standard ketogenic diet. Depending on other factors such as protein intake, total carbohydrates of less than 30 grams a day usually induces ketosis in SKD.
Standard Ketogenic Diet typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs
CKD (Cyclical Ketogenic Diet) – The CKD includes periods of low-carb, high fat diet followed by periods of high-carb refeeds. For example, 5 days of strict ketogenic diet followed by 2 high-cab days. A CKD is ideal for bodybuilders and athletes who undergo high volume and intense training which is required to optimize the diet.
TKD (Targeted Ketogenic Diet) – This is a more lenient version of the ketogenic diet in which carbs are allowed, but only around workouts. The TDK is useful for those who don’t want to include long carb loads like the CKD or individuals who are new to an exercise regime and cannot do the amount of exercise that is required to optimize a CDK diet. A TDK helps to maintain exercise performance and allows glycogen re-synthesis without affecting ketosis.
High-protein ketogenic diet – The High-protein ketogenic diet is quite similar to the standard ketogenic diet, but it includes higher percentage of protein.
The ratio of a high-protein ketogenic diet is: 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs
How Ketosis Aids Weight Loss?
Ketosis and CCK – Research shows ketones has a strong impact on hormone cholecystokinin (CCK). Your intestines release CCK after you finish a meal and this hormone is a powerful regulator of food intake. As you start losing weight, you body reduces the secretion of CCK, so as you get thinner you crave more and more unhealthy foods and your weight loss diet is thrown off the mill. But, when you lose weight using a ketogenic diet, ketosis prevents you from getting trapped in this vicious cycle.
Ketosis and Gherlin – Gherlin is popularly known as the hunger hormone and is boosts appetite. This hormone is released by the intestines and stomach when you are fasting and gherlin levels drop when you eat a meal as a response to the nutrients circulating in the blood. So, it is evident than gherlin levels are bound to rise as a person loses weight, but this does not happen when you lose weight with the help of ketosis. Ketosis completely suppresses gherlin levels which help the participants to eat less even after they stop dieting, so there is no question of regaining the lost weight.
Foods to Include in a Ketogenic Diet Plan
Fats – On a ketogenic diet, majority of your daily calorie intake should come from healthy fats.
Saturated and Monounsaturated fats:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Red palm oil
- Macadamia nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Egg yolk
- Peanut butter
- Coconut butter
- Full-fat yogurt
- Full-fat cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, cream cheese, Marscapone Cheese)
- Full-fat cottage cheese
- Heavy whipping cream
Proteins – When it comes to proteins, it is best to opt for organic or grass fed meats and free-range eggs in order to minimize the amount of hormones and steroids.
- Meat – beef, goat, lamb, veal, pork, other wild game
- Poultry – chicken, duck, turkey, quail, pheasant
- Fish – wild caught salmon, mackerel, mahi-mahi, snapper, tuna, trout, cod, catfish, flounder, halibut
- Shellfish – oysters, clams, lobster, crab, shrimps, scallops, mussels, squid
- Bacon and Sausage – without added sugar or extra fillers
- Whole eggs
Carbs – It is best to get most of the fibers from leafy greens and non-starchy low-carb vegetables:
- Bell pepper
- Romaine lettuce
- Spaghetti squash
Foods to avoid In a Ketogenic Diet Plan
All high-carb foods should be restricted from a ketogenic diet plan.
- All types of grains – whole meal wheat, rye, oats, corn, barley, millet, bulgur, sorghum, rice, amaranth, buckwheat and sprouted grains, quinoa, white potatoes
- All products made from grains – bread, pasts, pizza, cookies, cakes, crackers, biscuits
- Sugar and sweets – table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup, ice creams, cakes, pastries, puddings, sugary soft drinks, fruit juices, sweet smoothies, candies
- Fruits – All tropical fruits such as mango, banana, pineapple, papaya, high-carb fruits such as tangerine, grapes and dried fruits such as dates and raisins
- Beans and legumes – Peas, kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans, navy beans, chickpeas, lentils
- Root vegetables – Potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets
- Artificial sweeteners – Splenda, Equal, sweeteners containing Aspartame, Saccharin, Acesulfame, Sucralose
- Refined oils and fats – Sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil, grape seed oil, corn oil, margarine
Sample 1500 Calorie Ketogenic Diet
In this article, we have prepared a sample ketogenic diet plan in which the total macros requirement in 1500 calories.
The Macros % for carbs: Protein: fats are 5%:35%:60% which comes to:
Carbs = 18.75 grams
Protein = 131.25 grams
Fats = 100.00 grams
|Whole egg omlette||2 eggs||130||0.6||11||8.8|
|Coconut oil||1 tablespoon (13.6 grams)||117||0||0||14|
|Almonds||10 (12 grams)||70||2||2||6|
|Amul cheese cube||1||80||0.36||5||6.5|
|Cooked Spinach||100 g||13||3.6||2.9||0.4|
|Boiled Egg whites||2||34||0.4||7.2||0.4|
|Grilled fish||100 grams||109||0.28||22.6||1.18|
|Coconut oil||1 tablespoon (13.6 grams)||117||0||0||14|
|Cooked broccoli||100 grams||35||7.14||2.37||0.41|
5 Main Advantages of Following the Ketogenic Diet
Aids Weight Loss – This is by far the most important benefit of ketogenic diet. Carbohydrate-rich foods promote the release of insulin that signals the cells to store energy in the form of glycogen that is later converted into fat. But, a ketogenic diet promotes weight loss by almost emptying the store of carbs in the body that prevents the release of insulin during meals. With less amount of insulin in the blood stream, the body starts burning its store of fat as a source of energy that helps in rapid weight loss. During ketosis, the body burns fat 24/7, even when it is at a state of rest.
Fights Cancer – Cancer cells thrive of glucose. Therefore, a diet completely deprived of sugar and other carbohydrates is an effective method for fighting cancer and preventing it from spreading. Unlike normal healthy cells, cancer cells cannot metabolically shift from glucose to fat as an alternative source of energy. So, a ketogenic diet literally cuts off the only source of nourishment to the cancer cells leading them to starvation and death.
Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease – A Ketogenic diet is considered a natural treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. One of the main causes of Dementia and Alzheimer’s is the degeneration of the nerve system in the brain. But a ketogenic diet rich in healthy fats helps to support the nerve system in the brain. When the body is in ketosis, it is able to utilize the fatty acids to produce energy which is extremely beneficial for the brain and for the natural treatment of Dementia.
Improvement in Type 2 Diabetes – carb-rich foods are readily broken down into simple sugar or glucose in the digestive tract and from there they enter the blood stream which leads to elevated blood sugar levels. And the body responds to this high blood sugar level by releasing the hormone insulin that signal the cells to either burn the glucose or store it. This sudden spike in blood glucose and insulin levels can be fatal for people with type 2 diabetes. A low-carb ketogenic diet can reduce the amount of glucose in the blood after every meal which will lead to better glycemic control in diabetic patients.
Better Cardiovascular Health – Despite being high in fats, a ketogenic diet can improve cardiovascular health in a number of ways.
- First, a low-carb diet helps to reduce blood pressure or hypertension that reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Secondly, it helps to reduce the level of cholesterol and triglycerides in blood. Cholesterol is formed from excess glucose present in the diet. A ketogenic diet is completely devoid of sugar and carbs that helps to reduce arterial damage and inflammation and it also helps to repair the damage cussed by inflammatory chemicals. Carbohydrates are also closely related to triglyceride formation. The lesser amount of carbs you eat, the lower the levels of triglycerides in your blood.
- Lastly, the high levels of healthy fats in a ketogenic diet helps to increase the level of healthy HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol in the blood which reduces the risk of heart diseases dramatically.
5 Dangers Associated with the Ketogenic Diet
Constipation – This is one of the most common side-effects of the ketogenic diet. The lack of carbohydrates and dietary fiber in a ketogenic diet affects smooth bowel movement and leads to constipation. Therefore, it is suggested to include leafy greens in almost each and every meal in order to mitigate bowel irregularities. Increased fluid intake and use of medium-chain triglycerides oil (MTC oil) can also facilitate gut transit and alleviate constipation.
Low-Blood Sugar Levels – When you shift from a carb-rich diet to a ketogenic diet, your body starts using fat as a source of energy instead of carbohydrates. The body needs some time to adjust to the change in the source of fuel and it can lead to low blood sugar levels at the initial stage. Some other temporary side effects that come along with the shift are fatigue and headache. Once the body reaches full ketosis the blood sugar levels will become stable and remain typically lower than average.
Nutritional Deficiencies – Ketogenic diet is an extremely restricted diet that does not allow intake of most vegetables and fruits along with carbohydrates which can lead to deficiency of certain essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in the body. Therefore, it is recommended to include multivitamin and mineral supplements in the diet in order to make up for the deficiency. Using high-fat plant foods such as seeds, nuts, avocados and coconut oil instead of animal fats can also increase vitamin and mineral content in a ketogenic diet.
Trigger Ketoacidosis – Ketones are naturally acidic in nature. If the body starts producing excessive levels of ketones then in can lead to Ketoacidosis. It is a life-threatening condition that causes chemical imbalance (metabolic acidosis) that can lead to formation of kidney stones and cause bone breakdown. Therefore, it is important to check the blood value of ketones periodically in order to keep ketosis under control.
Kidney Stones – Kidney stones are a rare side effect of a ketogenic diet. High amounts of protein and low levels of carbohydrates, inadequate fluids and acidosis are some of the main causes behind the formation of kidney stones while following a ketogenic diet. Ensure adequate hydration and increase fluid intake in order to reduce the risk of kidney stones.
Having said that, a ketogenic diet is frequently recommended by doctors and nutritionists to promote weight loss and manage health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension or Dementia. So, get on with the ketogenic diet and stick to it consistently in order to make the most out of its health benefits in the long run.